IHC to resume hearing Maryam Nawaz’s appeal against conviction in Avenfield reference today

The Islamabad High Court (IHC) will today (Tuesday) resume hearing the appeals of PML-N Vice President Maryam Nawaz and her husband retired captain Mohammad Safdar against their conviction in the Avenfield reference, nearly a month after Maryam’s lawyer filed an application to adjourn the proceedings.

In the last hearing on November 24, the court had accepted the request filed by Maryam’s counsel, Advocate Irfan Qadir, to adjourn the hearing without any proceedings because of him being occupied with another case in the Supreme Court.

The court had subsequently adjourned the hearing on the appeals till Dec 21 (today).

It is a routine practice that when a lawyer is supposed to appear before the Supreme Court, he seeks adjournment in cases fixed for hearing before the high courts or trial courts on the same date.

However, Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry had blamed Maryam for seeking 16 adjournments since August 2018 when she filed an appeal before the IHC against her conviction in the Avenfield apartments reference.

“Sixteenth application to seek adjournment from Maryam Nawaz, and organized propaganda against the judiciary and armed forces, hence these people are not less than Sicilian Mafia,” the minister tweeted.

Conviction and appeal

On July 6, a few weeks before the elections in 2018, the accountability judge of Islamabad, who was working under the supervision of an apex court judge, convicted the Sharif family in the Avenfield apartment reference.

Former prime minister Nawaz Sharif was handed 10 years as jail time for owning assets beyond known income and one year for not cooperating with the National Accountability Bureau (NAB). Meanwhile, Maryam was given 7 years for abetment after she was found “instrumental in concealment of the properties of her father” and one year for non-cooperation with the bureau.

The Sharif family had filed appeals against its conviction before the IHC in the second week of August 2018.

In October this year, Maryam filed a new application, along with “extremely relevant, simple and clear-cut facts”, with the IHC seeking annulment of that verdict.

In her application, Maryam stated that the entire proceedings that resulted in her conviction were a “classic example of outright violations of law and political engineering hitherto unheard of in the history of Pakistan”.

She also attached a reference to the speech made by former IHC judge Shaukat Aziz Siddiqui at the District Bar Association, Rawalpindi on July 21, 2018, wherein he had claimed that the country’s top intelligence agency was involved in manipulating judicial proceedings.

“The ISI officials had approached the chief justice asking him to make sure Nawaz and his daughter should not be bailed before the elections,” read the petition, quoting an excerpt from ex-judge Siddiqui’s speech.